Fanon x arrangement x history

Enjoying Fanon’sĀ Black Skin White MasksĀ quite a bit. A couple of things make this a really good read

For one, Fanon’s unconventional style, which blends theory, poetry, and quotations, makes this text easier to approach (compare to Butler). The way Fanon remakes and re-arranges quotes from other works, especially Cesaire, is fascinating. I find this style really provocative when we keep in mind the way we process and understand information in our modern “internet age”. The way Fanon works with quotations and poetry corresponds with the way we jump around and consume massive amounts of seemingly unrelated content online. Fanon’s style is really admirable because he takes a mass of information and makes sense of it, re-arranges it into something coherent.

In regards to content, Fanon’s argument that the black social experience (as one always in relation to whiteness), is characterized by a constant re-living of history stands out most prominently for me. I cannot stress the importance of the link he makes between the past and the present in regards to race. Indeed it is easy as an outsider to wonder why somebody can’t just “get over” and “forget about” the past. When the past is constantly being re-lived, positive development and progression becomes inconceivable.

The way that Fanon utilizes media and textual analysis to help argue this is insightful, although I feel that in many respects it could be stronger. Cultural analysis (he deals with comics and cartoons most noticeably) seems sort of like an after thought to his work, although I regard it as a lot more compelling then his argument founded in the psychosexual.


2 thoughts on “Fanon x arrangement x history

  1. It’s interesting that you point out the black man being made to re-live history. Fanon specifically says something more along the lines that he is forced with the weight of his colour, and the burden of representing his entire race when observed by the white gaze; but Fanon talks about how historical heritage is insufficient in constructing a ‘black’ identity. I wonder what this says about saddling someone with historical baggage.

  2. Ya I see a link between being forced to re-live history and bearing the burden of representing the entire race in the gaze of another. And I would agree that historical heritage is insufficient in constructing a ‘black’ identity, I believe that’s why being forced to re-live history has such significance for Fanon.

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